Build team chemistry

The simulation, designed for sports teams, highlights the strengths and perceptions of team members in a constructive and positive way. After the simulation, the team is able to better communicate about team interaction and ways of working.

The simulation makes visible not only the strengths of different people, but also what each thinks of each other. Everyone learns not only about their teammates, but also about themselves.

Focus on trust and knowing the others

The simulation helps to understand your teammates and especially their actions in different situations. The simulation creates understanding and helps the team in being more self-directed.

At the heart of the simulation are factors related to interaction, common rules of the team, and action in tough situations and when facing setbacks. The simulation leads the mind off the internal roles of the game and provides an opportunity to discuss ways of working as a team.

In the story of the simulationyour team has been selected for a tournament to be held in conjunction with the UN General Assembly. However, the sport itself is unfamiliar to you and there are other mishaps during the trip. The exercise consists of situations you face along the way. For example, you will solve questions regarding who on the team is constructive in conflicts and who is adopting new tactics. After each situation, there is a facilitated discussion in which feedback is given and received, and the views of others are heard.

CLAIM 1: INDUSTRIOUS TRAINING

Who is an industrious trainer, “First in the gym, last in the gym”?

CLAIM 2: LISTENING

Who likes to listen to others and others trust him/her with their concerns?

CLAIM 3: CONTRUCTIVENESS IN CONFLICTS

Who acts constructively in conflict situations?

CLAIM 4: QUICK ADOPTER

Who adopts new tactics?

Research background

The simulation has been compiled on the basis of expert interviews and literature. Several Finnish sports researchers and head coaches of top sports have been interviewed. The simulation aims to create a concrete and player-relevant discussion and has been tested and developed together with the teams.

Objectives

  • Bring out the hidden strengths of individuals as well as common practices and different roles. Everyone learns what their teammates are like and what do they think about me.
  • Have a discussion about the team’s interaction and ways of working together.
  • Accelerate the development of a united team: formation – turmoil – standardization phase – implementation phase. The aim is to find faster the steps towards the implementation phase.

For whom?

  • For professional sports teams.

  • The simulation is best suited to the phase where the team has been working together for a few weeks and team chemistry is starting to form, but the process is still in its infancy.

  • One simulation fits 4-18 players. Teams larger than this are divided into two groups, such as defenders and forwards.

  • Duration about 2-3 hours.

Head Coach Lauren Bertolacci and Assistant Haley Brightwell, Viteos NUC: “If you value generating trust within your team, this is for you”

We coach professional volleyball in the Swiss league NLA, having won 4 gold medals in the previous two seasons including the NLA Swiss Championship, and are continuously in the top-3 of our league. We are a team that is trying to push the limits with our style of volleyball. We aspire to be quite aggressive in growing the game and not being satisfied with traditional ways of playing. Our team motto is to “Dream Big” and reach higher than anyone thinks possible. 

We have a lot of diversity when it comes to our team. Whether it is personality, native languages, cultural background or age of athletes. About one-third of the team has been together for almost 3 years and the rest are new to the team. Four players only speak English while the rest have a first language of French or German. Additionally some players are full-time professional players while others are balancing professional sport with work or school. These differences can naturally create a disconnect between members of any team. 

Hard times in the autumn

We had a difficult start to the 2020 season. It was the first time in 3 years that the team experienced a major loss to start the season. On top of this we were facing a lot of adversity as the Black Lives Matter movement was having a large impact on our athletes and staff as well as COVID-19 making every day unpredictable. 

With this background, SmoothTeam simulation helped players articulate themselves, which can help us manage these situations better as they continue to come up. 

SmoothTeam allowed everybody to be heard – and bridged gaps between players

We value what can come from conversations and dialogue. Our team has already exposed quite a bit of vulnerabilities to each other. We have had plenty of conversations, but still SmoothTeam allowed a new way to have conversation with the team, different than we had had before. The simulation helped to guide the conversation into new topics, which were needed for our next steps.

In our team, as in many other teams, the gap between the star players and some other players is huge. Whether it’s age, playing experience, language, or personalities – we have to facilitate closing these gaps in order to be the best team. If everyone knows what especially the less experienced, less-heard players need and experience, they can grow and the team can grow. Closing the gap is essential in achieving great results, and also explains how we have managed to achieve the championships. Bridging the gap, learning together, supporting each other, is key.

SmoothTeam simulation allowed us to dive into different past experiences, and even to the mental development of each player in terms of sports. A couple of younger players spoke up. Many older more experienced players started to understand younger players’ point of view. 

Some of the topics that came up naturally were ones that our athletes did not know about one another. The simulation exposed topics to the team and exposed teammates to one another. We as coaches love getting people out of their boxes, and this happened repeatedly in the simulation.

The simulation allowed us to remove ourselves as coaches from the discussion, which is truly valuable. The simulation also distanced the team from daily discussions, for example the simulation provided a conflict for us to walk through without us needing to address our own conflicts at that given moment.

The results were visible after the simulation

Immediately after the simulation we could already feel a change inside the gym. Athletes who may typically interact less with others felt more empowered to do so.

The simulation brought up a language barrier between some members of the team as well as other insecurities that come with sport – after this discussion it was clear that it had created a trust between them that carried onto the court and into practice.

Lessons for coaches

Although the main input of the simulation is facilitating discussion and trust between the players, also we as coaches learned some important lessons. For example, we have to find ways for new players in the team to be able to speak to older players without feeling embarrassed or threatened. There is naturally a barrier to that, and it’s our job to facilitate the process. This is essential, as it speeds up the team’s formation. 

We can recommend the simulation to any team!

We think any team could benefit from the simulation! Coaches don’t have a lot of extra time – we know this first hand. Creating vulnerable and open discussion in your team can be very time consuming and difficult to initiate. 

The simulation completely removes the preparation time that a coach would need for meetings such as these – allowing the staff to focus their energy in other aspects. SmoothTeam makes it incredibly easy to dive into discussion effectively with the tools they offer.

Igniting trust within the team

For us, creating trust within our team is incredibly important. SmoothTeam simulation allowed for easy discussion between our very diverse group and this dialogue is a natural path to trust. If you find trust within your athletes to be equally important for you, there is no reason not to try it.

Lauren Bertolacci, Head Coach, Viteos NUC

Haley Britghtwell, Assistant Coach, Viteos NUC

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    Mail address: Nekalantie 28, 33100 Tampere, Finland

    +358-45-1143664

    smoothteam [AT-SIGN] smoothteam.fi